The release of Avengers: Endgame has garnered an enormous amount of hype, with a record setting box office, a Rotten Tomatoes score of 95%, and an A+ Cinemascore. It is safe to say that Marvel’s culmination of the past 11 years is a smash hit. But out of its accomplishments comes a discussion of legacy. What place does the Marvel Cinematic Universe have in cinematic history?
Surely, the MCU has changed the face of cinema. It is hard to remember a time before Marvel, in which the summer box office wasn’t dominated by the likes of Captain America, Iron Man, or Thor. The MCU’s formulaic superhero films have brought upon a new generation of films that rely on character investment, instead of narrative risks. Not to say Kevin Feige’s brainchild should be cast aside as mindless fun. The very reason a film like Avengers: Endgame works is due to the personal investment fans have built up through the past 22 films. The MCU is a feat like no other that deserves to be celebrated.
The release of Endgame has also sparked discussion around how the MCU’s legacy measures up to the legacy of Star Wars. With Star Wars as the blueprint for an everlasting franchise, it’s hard not to compare the two. Discussing legacy is difficult without the benefit of time. It is impossible to know just how much the MCU has changed cinema while you’re living through it. When the original Star Wars was released in 1977, audiences everywhere knew they were witnessing something special, but they had no idea the impact Star Wars would have on the world of film 40+ years later. Star Wars virtually invented the blockbuster and essentially created “the event film” the MCU has so greatly relied on every summer.
Over the span of the past 42 years, Lucasfilm has released eight (nine in December) saga films, two standalone films, and three animated television shows. In the past 11 years, Marvel has released 22 films, with multiple Disney+ series on the way. Legacy reveals itself in time, and Star Wars has had much more time to carve itself out in cinematic history.
The 42 years of Star Wars has allowed for the films to be a gift passed down from generation to generation. While Marvel has certainly earned its place in the hearts of millions, spanning across various ages, its legacy lies within the transition to future generations. 40 years from now, will parents talk of the day they waited online for over an hour to get tickets to see Avengers: Endgame? Will they tell the story of the time they witnessed Captain America, Spider-Man, Black Panther, and Iron Man all in one place while theaters erupted into cheers?
If the overwhelming positive reaction to Endgame is any indication, I’d say the MCU is on its way to creating its own legacy that can be passed down from one generation to the next. Only time will tell.
Tags Avengers: Endgame Chris Evans MARVEL MCU Robert Downey Jr
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